* C.bank sees only 30 banks with problems
* Sees no major risk for overall banking system
* Bad loans, high returning deposits are key risks
MOSCOW, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The number of troubled banks in Russia has halved in the past months, the central bank said on Tuesday, adding it would not save lenders at any cost because risks to the overall banking system were subsiding.
Analysts have long said a much feared second wave of financial crisis in Russia could come from the banking sector, which has been accumulating non-performing loans and making huge provisions against them, thus erasing profits.
But as the speed of bad loan growth slowed and lending started to pick up in recent months, economists and authorities have said the country has begun to slowly emerge from the crisis and should soon return to growth.
“At the peak of the crisis there were more than 50 (troubled) banks ... and today there are less than 30,” the central bank’s First Deputy Chairman Gennady Melikyan told reporters adding that before the crisis the number of banks with problems was estimated at 14.
Russia has over 1,100 banks and authorities and bankers have said the crisis will force many lenders to go bankrupt and encourage consolidation in the sector.
However, the government has not allowed a single major lender to go bankrupt so far and spent over 400 billion roubles ($14 billion) on their rescue.
Melikyan said the strategy was changing.
“Last autumn there was a fear of a (banking) system breakdown, today there is no such threat and we will act much tougher.”
He said that besides non-performing loans some banks were facing major risks from their deposit accumulation policies because they set rates aggressively high to attract more funds at a time of tight liquidity last year and in early 2009.
Russia staged a 35 percent rouble devaluation in 2008-2009 after oil prices collapsed but since then the rouble has regained much of its strength together with oil, making high returning rouble deposits a heavy burden for banks.
“How will they pay back those huge rates? They have put themselves in an impasse,” he said, adding that the central bank was ready to view deposits returning no more than 14-15 percent a year in roubles as safe.
“I think those who offer 17-18 percent with interest recapitalisation every month are simply not planning to pay back,” said Melikyan, adding the regulator would revoke licences from those banks without much hesitation if they fail to pay.
The Russian government guarantees deposits up to 700,000 roubles ($24,190) or around 40 times the average monthly wage.
Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva, Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Ruth Pitchford
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